Finnish asphalt cartel fined

07 March 2008

Finland's market court has imposed fines totalling € 19,4 million on a group seven companies and a trade association, found guilty of operating a cartel in the asphalt market. The Market Court describes the cartel as the biggest ever prosecuted in Finland.

The sentence follows investigations by the Finnish Competition Authority (FCA), which found evidence of price fixing on a national scale between 1996 and 2000, and at a regional level between 1994 and 2001.

Besides the country's Asphalt Association, the Court has fined seven companies, with a market share of some 70%. They are: Lemminkäinen Oyj, Valtatie Oy, Skanska Asfaltti Oy, NCC Roads Oy, SA-Capital Oy, Rudus Asfaltti Oy and Super Asfaltti Oy.

Lemminkäinen, which has been fined € 14 million, says it plans to appeal its fine. A statement from the company said, “The decision of the Market Court shows that the claims made by the Finnish Competition Authority were largely rejected. The Court finds that only some instances of restriction of competition alleged by the FCA were corroborated by evidence.”

Interestingly, the FCA is also considering whether take an appeal to Finland's Supreme Administrative Court. It had originally proposed total fines of € 97 against the cartel, and believes the lower penalties announced are not sufficient. It said in a statement, “The FCA finds that only a level of fines which is sufficiently high fulfils the intended goal to prevent cartels.”

As reported in this month's business page, NCC has announced plans to acquire the 50% of Valtatie Oy it does not already own.

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